Monday, March 31, 2014

A Follow Up

Bombed It

More than a month ago, I had my fake interview with Erik Deckers on February 21st.

He, and many others interested in helping out students with practicing how to interview for jobs, came to Ball State and sat with a multitude of students throughout the day.

We were allotted thirty minutes to talk, discuss, answer questions, ya know, the typical interview thing.

Erik was a very pleasant man and when I wasn't being asked to answer any questions, I was perfectly fine and enjoyed our exchanges.

I didn't feel like I was going to choke and die, basically. I was nervous, but not frightfully so.

The moment a job related question was asked of me, though, I would freeze.

My body tensed up. 

Air? What was that? I couldn't remember how to get it in my lungs.

I left the interview feeling miserable (read more here). 

I knew I'd tanked it.


Yet, apparently that's not what happened. What I had perceived to be the truth and reality of the situation was in fact somehow false.

I was told in class one Thursday by Cathy Day, my literary citizenship professor, that I was experiencing a disconnect between reality and the world in my head. 

I hadn't done horridly at all.

This was furthered confirmed by an email from Erik himself.

His email read as such:

"Hi Liz

So Cathy Day pointed me toward your blog post about our interview. I was surprised by it. I honestly don't remember interviewing a 'frozen-up moron.' That woman never showed up. She must have been in a different room than we were.

But I remember Liz. Liz the creative writing meteorologist. Liz who works the front desk at her dorm. Liz my fellow Honors Collegian (Colleague?). Liz who understands and appreciates the glory of the Oxford Comma.

I remember thinking Liz was pretty effing awesome.

So awesome in fact, that when we were done, I emailed a friend of mine to ask him if he was still looking for interns. (He wasn't. Sorry.)

Could you have done 'better' on the interview? Sure, but we all can. We always have room to improve on any venture. (Actually, the last thing you want to be excellent at is job interviews, since it implies you've done lots and lots of them!) But you did fine and I didn't think there was anything wrong with your performances. 

Just remember, interviews are about making connections. While there's a question-and-answer format to it, it's your chance to tell stories and build rapport with the interviewer. We did that, which is why you are one of only three people who truly stood out to me, and I remember even now. Hell, I even kept your resume so I could remember you.

If you'd like, I'm happy to give you some interview advice for future real interviews. But you did just fine, and you were a very enjoyable person to talk to; I was only sorry we had to stop after 30 minutes.

So tell your 'frozen-up moron' I'm sorry she missed all the fun. I had a good time.



I have read this email about six times now.

Each time, I tear up.

I'll be honest: I'm that kind of person that no matter what I do, it's never good enough.

I'll never be perfect enough, achieve enough, be great enough, etc.

I'm just not enough.

So, to have someone like Erik say all these supremely nice things about me, someone he'd only met once, and for thirty minutes at that, is astounding.

He doesn't know how much it means to me, nor can I properly explain it.


It's something massive to think about.

How can two people, I being one of those two, go through the exact same thing and walk away with completely opposite opinions about what just occurred?

Not sure.

Probably has something to do with the Matrix.

Regardless, it really is consoling knowing that next time, I need not worry as much because, chances are, I won't bomb it.

Take Heed

Not only will this help me in the future, but I hope it helps others who get just as nervous. 

Have some faith in yourself and realize that even if it wasn't a perfect interview, it still probably wasn't that bad.

Don't throw yourself to the side that easily.

You're not a failure, and I found that neither am I.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Research: The Gateway to Creative Writing

"Need more input, Stephanie!"
Lately, I've been really wanting to write an analysis or research paper of some sort. And I'm not sure why. Most students flinch when told they have to do a research paper and yet I often feel a weird sort of...glee.

I like learning. I like looking up stuff. One of my favorite activities is looking up something random on Wikipedia and then clicking on links within the page, seeing where I end up. 

(I also enjoy making typos whilst texting and then researching the words that aren't autocorrected. I recently just learned about rhenium the other day thanks to this method.)

This desire to just know random things comes in handy, especially in creative writing because, believe it or not, I'd say that about fifty percent--if not more--of creative writing is research.

It's True

I know, shocker, right? 

But really, think about it:  if you're going to write about basically anything, you have to know something about it first. If you're writing a war novel or maybe a satricial piece about the moon landing, you're going to have to do a little research first so you know what you're talking about.

For example, I'm currently working on a farcical screenplay for my advanced screenwriting class about Victorian societal standards and etiquette.

In order to make this piece effective, funny, and accurate I've had to do a LOT of research into what was expected of men and women during the later 1880s. I needed to know the rules so that I could break them.

Not only is my screenplay going to turn out a lot better, it will seem authentic. It's so easy to see when someone is faking their way through anything, whether it be a speech, paper, or story. If you want people to take you seriously, even if the piece is comical, you have to prove that you know what you're doing.

Research Methods

I think what really freaks people out about researching is that it seems like such an intense, time consuming endeavor. It doesn't have to be that way, though! It can actually even be fun. 

Here are some ways I like to research or start the researching process:

1. Go to a public place and just eavesdrop. If someone says something I don't understand or have knowledge of, I Google it!

2. Go to the library and just start looking around. I always stumble upon something that I don't know about. I check out a couple books on the subject and start reading and learning!

3. Just Google/Wikipedia something. Anything. I'm always amazed at what I end up learning.

The best thing is that you can learn interesting things that might seem like "useless" information, but you never know when that Wikipedia page about lenticular clouds might come in handy. 

Everything is material. Everything.

Don't Just Listen to Me...

Below are links to blogs and/or articles that discuss researching for creative writing. 

Cathy Day, my literary citizenship professor, is currently working on a novel about Cole Porter's wife, Linda. She talked to us about her work with researching the novel back in the Novel Writing course I took last semester with her. In her blog post, found here, she talks about how much research she had/has to do since she is dealing with non-fictional characters. 

And if writing about real people, like Teddy Roosevelt or Bach, is something you want to do, there's nothing stopping you. Research just becomes all the more important so that you can make the book accurate and credible.

Jean Wilson Murray discusses employing research as a means of procrastination in his writing process in this blog post. 

I'll be honest, I do the same. I'd much rather read up on my topic and do research than write at times, because it's easier. But "easier" is usually the path to be avoided if grand results are desired. But we're all human. Knowing this problem and admitting is the first step.

Research is important, just don't let it overshadow the reason you're researching:


Find your info and then pull out a new sheet of paper and put to good use the new knowledge you've acquired. 


I may just be weird, but this aspect of creative writing is probably one of my favorites. I love knowing that I'm going to be able to provide my readers with a well researched story, screenplay, etc. Sometimes it's difficult, but the reward of having a knowledgeable voice in your piece makes it so worth it.

Think about some of your favorite novels, TV series, or movies.

Those projects all take years to make because of all the extensive and in depth research that must be done.

How well do you think Breaking Bad would have turned out had creator Vince Gilligan not researched any of it?

It would have been cancelled faster than you can say "Walter White."

"Mr. White, what are we doing here again?"
"Research, Jesse. We're researching."

So, while it may get tedious at times, just remember that researching is a good thing. You'll better your project and yourself! 

What are some ways YOU like to research? Have any cool methods? Share with me! I'd love to be introduced to even more ways to glean more information.